Rethinking Migrants’ Skills and Labour Immigration Policies

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from: 15:00
to: 16:00

The MPC Webinar Series

Picking up where we left off ….

The health emergency requires us to cease, at least for now, our usual ways in the Migration Policy Centre of communicating and sharing ideas that often require physical proximity. We can’t meet in seminar rooms, but we can meet virtually and aim instead for social proximity. That’s why we have created the MPC webinar series. The series will be a forum for debate and discussion about migration and mobility that also pays close attention to the implications of the Covid-19 outbreak for migration and mobility but also seeks to think beyond the crisis. It will do so by drawing from the existing evidence base while also thinking through future implications. The webinars will be accessible, open to all and interactive so that we can continue to share ideas and experiences and think about both current and future challenges that will shape migration and mobility.

From ‘low-skilled’ migrants to ‘key workers’: Rethinking migrants’ skills and labour immigration policies


A key question in labour immigration policy is how to select migrant workers for admission. Most high-income countries distinguish between low – and higher-skilled migrants: high-skilled migrants typically face fewer admission requirements and are given greater rights in the labour market and welfare state than low-skilled migrants. This distinction stems from the common assessment that higher-skilled migrants are more ‘beneficial’ and ‘valuable’ to the domestic economy and society of the host country. The current health emergency caused by the Coronavirus, and the associated socio-economic crises, have suddenly and rapidly challenged and disrupted some of these common assumptions and distinctions. Since the start of the health emergency a few weeks ago, many ‘low-skilled’ migrants have become ‘key workers’ in their host countries, now considered necessary and highly valued for their contribution to maintaining core state functions and public services such as health care, social care, public transport, food supply chains etc. These developments raise important new questions about how we conceptualise and measure skills as well as how different types of migrants and other workers are valued in the labour market and policy-making. The Webinar will discuss these new questions and provide reflections on the consequences for theory and research as well as public debates and policy-making.

Speakers and Format

Chair: Professor Andrew Geddes (RSCAS, EUI)

Presenters: Professor Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol
Professor Martin Ruhs (RSCAS, EUI) Dr Friedrich Poeschel (RSCAS, EUI)
Followed by Q&A